On September 6, 2016, I was introduced to my distant cousin, Jane. She was born in the mid 1800’s, so I haven’t met her in real life, but when I found her, I instantly felt connected to her. You can read that story here.
After finding Jane and her husband, Alfred, I started looking for their children (if they had any). Over the course of the next few weeks, I found 11 of their 12 children. I knew that they had 12 children because of the 1911 census.
I spent quite a bit of time searching for that 12th child, but didn’t have any luck.
On September 23, Jershon and I went to the temple and were sealed for Jane and Alfred. That was a really special experience.
Here’s what I wrote in my journal:
“Tonight was our ward temple night. I have been so excited for it all day because we were planning on doing the sealing for Jane and Alfred. The session was at 7 so we left our house at about 6:20 ish. Russell and Kelsey babysat the kids for us. We got all the way to the temple (we were about to pull into the parking lot) when I realized that I forgot my temple recommend at home. So we had to turn around, drive the 15 minutes home, and then the 15 minutes back.
I joked with Jershon that maybe Jane and Alfred were running late to their sealing, or maybe Jane was still getting ready. By the time we were walking up to the temple, it was already 7:05. Even though I was a little bit annoyed at myself, it was fine because since it wasn’t an endowment session, it was fine that we were going to be a little bit late. We could just walk in later than everyone else. So, I changed, walked up the stairs, and Jershon was walking up the other set of stairs at the same time (about 7:20 by this point.).
We walked towards the sealing office when we saw our group of ward members just walking into the sealing room. I’m not sure what the hold up was or why they were going in late, but it worked out nicely for us because we didn’t have to go in late all by ourselves. There were 8 other couples there so the front rows on both sides of the alter were filled.
Since we were the last couple to come in the room, we got to sit on the little sofa that is across from the end of the alter…the one where the couple sits for live sealings. That was pretty neat. Especially because I already felt like it was a special day for Jane and Alfred and now we got to be “the couple” on the special marriage sofa.
The Sealer called us up first so Jane and Alfred were the first couple to be sealed during the session. I felt a really warm feeling inside…almost like I was nervous (like when Jershon and I were sealed on our wedding day)…during the sealing. I had been praying for it to be a spiritual experience and it was. It felt special. I felt the spirit strongly.
I had also been praying today that possibly I would be inspired in the temple about who the missing 12th child is. If only I knew a name then I could have something to go off of for my research. During the sealing session, I started wondering if maybe the name is Alfred? I know that they had a daughter that they named Jane (after the mom,) but they don’t have any sons named Alfred (after the dad.) So that’s a possibility.
And then during one of the sealings, the female’s name was “Sarah Evans.” This got my attention since Jane and Alfred’s last name is Evans. So then I thought that possibly the missing child’s name is Sarah? Then I thought about how they also have a child that is named after Alfred’s dad – William Benjamin. But they don’t have a child that is named after his mom – Anne. So then I thought, maybe the missing child’s name is Anne? Who knows.”
Over the past 3 1/2 years since then, I have searched for the 12th child many, many times. I just hit a bunch of dead ends every time. I thought about the missing child a lot and looked forward to the day I would finally find him/her.
I finally decided that perhaps I would have to wait until the 1921 census was released (next year in 2021) so I could double check that and make sure there wasn’t just a mistake in the math when it said they had 12 children.
And then, a few weeks ago when I was e-mailing Caroline, she asked if I had looked through all of the church records to see if I could find the christening record for the 12th child. I had done that with the indexed records (which is how I found all 11 of the other children), but I hadn’t thought to manually go through the images that hadn’t been indexed. I didn’t even know how to do that.
I was able to figure out how to access the image records for the particular church that the 11 children had been christened in and I started looking through that.
So that’s what I’ve been doing over the past few weeks. I’ve spent quite a few hours, manually skimming hundreds and hundreds of church records, in the hopes of finding a christening record for the missing child.
Throughout this process, I would occasionally run across the image record for one of the other 11 children, but still hadn’t had any luck with the missing child.
Then on Sunday, I was getting ready to work on family history. I started off by saying a quick prayer and I asked Heavenly Father which direction I should go. I asked Him if I should continue to look for Jane and Alfred’s missing child, or if I should put in a few names of other family members that I know of but haven’t put into FamilySearch yet.
The thought came to me “look for Jane and Alfred’s daughter.” That kind of caught me off guard because I didn’t know the gender of the missing child. But then I started thinking… maybe it’s a girl? And perhaps her name is Ann. Both Jane and Alfred’s mothers were named Ann. And they had children that were named after both of their fathers, but none of their daughters were named Ann.
Anyway, so that’s the direction I went with my family history time that day. I kept looking through the christening records like I had been doing quite a bit over the past few weeks. Again, I ran across a few more of the 11 other children, but didn’t find the 12th child.
I started thinking about how it could be really likely that the missing child was their first child because the first child that I had records for (Jane Elizabeth Evans) wasn’t born until they had been married for 26 months already. And since this was before birth control, I figured that they probably would have had a baby before this point.
I did some calculations and figured that this would put the missing baby being born sometime in 1882.
So I started searching for Ann Evans (assuming the baby was a girl, named Ann), born in 1882.
I felt so determined that I was going to find the missing little girl on Sunday night before I went to bed. But it got late, and I had to end the search for then.
Well, then yesterday afternoon, I decided to search again.
I searched for quite a while, but then decided to try searching on Ancestry.com. I didn’t put a first name or gender for the child but I did put the birth year of 1882 and I put Jane and Alfred as the parents.
After scrolling down through the results and seeing the names of several other of Jane and Alfred’s children, I saw a result that said “Alfred Evans January 20 1882 England.”
I decided to click on it… just to check.
And this is what I found…
I skimmed the pages until I saw this…
There he was. Jane and Alfred’s missing child! A son, named Alfred.
I was in shock for a few minutes. First, because I couldn’t believe that after 3 1/2 years of hitting dead ends, I actually found their 12th child!
And second, because I had been so sure that it was going to be a daughter. And honestly, I was a bit disappointed about that. I felt a bit deceived and wondered why I had had that thought on Sunday about looking for their daughter. Where had that thought come from?
Either I totally made that thought up in my head, or maybe it meant something different than I thought.
Maybe the Spirit was trying to direct me to look at their daughter, Jane, and notice her birth year, and count up the months between their marriage and when Jane was born, and notice the gap, and calculate the year 1882 as being a probable year for the missing child’s birth.
That year did end up being a vital clue that helped me with the search… a search I had tried many times before with no luck… because I had no idea on the birth year (well, I knew that it had to have been between the years 1881 and 1910.)
Maybe that’s what that thought meant? He wasn’t telling me the gender of the missing child. He was telling me the first step that would get me to the right piece of the puzzle to make my search effective.
Remember that journal entry that I wrote on September 23, 2016? I just looked that up last night, after finding the missing child. I was so surprised when I read about how my first thought in the temple that day had been Alfred! … and that thought ended up being right!
I can’t believe I hadn’t remembered that. I’m sure I initially searched for that after that temple experience, but I couldn’t find anything on FamilySearch so I probably gave up on that being the name. And every time I’ve searched for the missing child, since then, over the past few years, I don’t remember ever even thinking about his name being Alfred since it didn’t turn up any promising results the first few times.
It feels so surreal that in the past month I’ve been able to see a photo of Jane and Alfred, and be led to find their missing child… both things that I only dreamed about for almost 4 years. I feel really blessed to be able to have these experiences.